A September 2021 British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) web article had the following to say about the hybrid work arrangement that’s being hailed as the future of work:
“Experts and workers alike have painted the hybrid work setup as almost universally desirable – an inevitable model for the future of work. Workers want the arrangement – but, as companies around the world are still rolling out a patchwork of various return-to-office strategies, we don’t actually know how long they’ll want it.
For me, a key reason behind this ‘how long they’ll want it’ is the absence of adequate information on how will the meeting-compliance-and-regulatory-requirements landscape shape up. Especially since the hybrid work environment isn’t only a mix of remote and on-premises work. It is equally about the integration of physical and digital realities. A workplace that functions by translating peoples’ and objects’ movements into meaningful insights derived from tangible data.
Why keep business secure while working hybrid?
With some employees working out of on-premises office setups, some working from home, and some being on the move (after travel restrictions were lifted/ eased), the primary dilemma organizations face today is – How to reduce/ eliminate cyber security threats and ensure business continuity?
And justifiably so, given that sensitive data-containing documents are placed in shared drives and on the Cloud; are sent/ received over web-based collaborative platforms like SharePoint and MS Teams; are spoken of over phone calls. Suffice to say that organizational data is to be found everywhere. It is not so difficult to gain access to this data, and this exponentially increases the risk of data breaches and cyberattacks.
One must not forget about the operational inefficiencies that come with data (documents, e-mails etc.) being accessible because of being ‘all over the place.’ To state the obvious – People want correct information instantly, without any delays or other hiccups, both at work and privately. But current processes and tools (when not handled properly) end up fragmenting information.
Keeping the business secure is now priority #1. As companies try meeting compliance mandates laid out by an ever-growing list of privacy legislations, identifying and quantifying the following has become critical:
• Are you able to identify and quantify your company's gaps in compliance with privacy regulations?
• What is the actual risk – and the extent – of privacy breach incidents?
• Do you have the necessary resources to mitigate these risks?
• How do you incorporate your quality management system (QMS) with existing hybrid work models/ tools of use?
In a hybrid workspace, IT security technologies capable of detecting intrusions, preventing encryption, data loss and virus attacks are all extremely necessary tools. But these alone are not sufficient because most compliance-related incidents are unintentional breaches of company security and privacy policies and practices.
How to keep business secure while working hybrid?
I’ve listed the primary elements (that I think) are game changers where remote work-related security and compliance are concerned:
• Controlled access to productivity apps employees use to collaborate (SharePoint/ Microsoft Teams)
• Controlled access to – and protection of – the data hybrid workers create and use (eg: chat conversations or shared files)
• Protecting devices from malware and other kinds of cyberattacks
• Protecting emails, files, and storage locations/ sites
• Not sharing files through e-mail
• Consistently labeling for levels of sensitivity and protection
• Preventing information leakages
• Adhering to regional data regulations
• Understanding the fundamentals of various ISO standards and building strong internal processes
At Columbus, we specialize in enabling organizations with the necessary security skillsets to confidently face – and overcome – the constant onslaught of cyberattacks and to meet the compliance needs that follow. Our mission is to equip companies to protect themselves and provide valuable services and roadmaps to customers in their compliance journeys. Columbus Compliance and Business Continuity Services help you maintain compliance with your internal policies and data regulations, to give your in-house team (remote or otherwise) the leeway essential to focus on innovation and growth.